Wednesday, November 15, 2006

A Brand New Day

The sharp ringing of the alarm woke me up. As I shook off the sleep from my eyes I glanced at her, sleeping cozily, nestled in the far side of the bed. Snug as a bug in a rug, as she would say.

I smiled and leaned closer to her ear and slowly blew air into her ear. I could see her wrinkle her pretty nose and turn towards me, still fast asleep.

I leaned forward and softly brushed my lips against hers. I could feel her lips respond as she softly kissed me back. I wondered if she knew what a great kisser she was even in her sleep. I finally glanced at the clock again and swore under my breath.

Kissing her beautiful forehead I eased out of the bed. The curtains on the window fluttered welcoming the cold morning breeze. I stretched contendedly and slowly walked towards the bathroom.

Just as I opened the bathroom door, I could hear her stirring in bed. I turned to look at her. I could see that she had turned in bed and was slowly shiverring. I walked back to the bed and pulled up blanket to her chin. Just as I did that, her beautiful eyes fluttered open.

She half smiled and said, Heeey in her sleep filled voice. I told her to go back to sleep, she nodded and closed her eyes. I leaned forward again and softly kissed those beautiful eyes. She reached out of the blanket and held my hand, Don't leave me, she said quietly. It's only for the day baby, I'll be back later in the night, I replied.

Don't leave me, she repeated. I rubbed her shoulder, waiting for her to drift back into sleep and then kissed her forehead again. I slowly made my way to the bathroom without making a noise. My feet felt like they were gliding on air, I guess they haven't touched solid ground ever since I met her.

In a while, I was ready for my long day at work. I walked out of the bathroom and looked at the bed only to find that she wasn't there. Her side of the bed was unruffled.

I smiled sadly and shook my head, she wasn't there because she never was in the first place. I'd made up all of that in my own mind, the overactive imagination that I have.

As much as I was disappointed, I knew that someday pretty soon, she'd really be here forever.

(This first (and only) mushy post is to let the world know that I am Engaged!)

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

An Untitled Story

4:15 AM

Somewhere in the middle of Tamil Nadu

Trying the squeeze the sleep off his eyes, he got off the train and on to the dimly-lit station. His bag seemed to follow him to the station floor. He looked around stretching his body and his arms as the dozenth yawn escaped his mouth. He slowly gathered his bag and trudged towards the exit.

After producing his ticket to the ticket checker, he dug into his jeans for his aunt's address. On enquiring with the checker, it seemed his uncle, the new local bank manager, was already popular figure. He was told that the fastest route was to cross the railway track and follow the road for about 2 kilometres. There might be an autorickshaw across the tracks, he was told.

While waiting for the train to leave the station he looked around. It wasn't much of a station but then again it wasn't much of a town itself. Just one among a hundred towns, similar-looking towns. The only difference was that this one now had his aunt and uncle. As the last of his fellow passengers who got off the train made their way past the ticket checker the train started moving.

As the train moved on, he saw this figure hanging out of one of the compartment doors, staring at him. He looked on as this intense-looking character kept staring at him with his dark eyes. Guess, he doesn't like the way I dress, he thought, chuckling to himself. These hick town boys sure had problems figuring a city dude.

Finally the train left the station, calmness descended on the platform and in awhile he realised that he was the only person in the platform. The ticket checker had gone away, probably to catch a snooze before the next train. Gathering his bag, he made his way to the edge of the platform. He really couldn't see the tracks from where he stood but he decided to take a chance and he jumped.

Just immediately after he had landed he could hear squeaking noises and he jumped. He dug out his pen-torch from the side flap of his bag and shined it on the edge of the tracks. He found three or four rats scampering away. They had been eagerly scouting the place looking for any food thrown out of the train. He shuddered involuntarily; rats had that effect on him.

Taking a deep breath he stepped into the darkness, crossing the tracks. In short while he had crossed the tracks and found the path that leads to the road. He relaxed as he took the path. He couldn't believe that a few rats could have such an impact on his day.

As he reached the road which was lit by a solitary tubelight. He looked around for an autorickshaw and immediately spotted one on the direction opposite to his intended path. The sight of the auto wasn't very comforting for it was rather broken down and shabby. He took a few hesitating steps towards the auto, when a head suddenly appeared out of the auto. It was the auto driver. This sudden appearance stopped him in his tracks and he could only stare. Finally he asked if he could be dropped at his aunt's address for which the autodriver shook his head, the auto was very low on fuel so no fares till 8:00 AM, when the petrol bunk down the road opened.

He turned, vaguely relieved that he wouldn't have to travel in that auto. He looked at the dark road ahead and he looked at his watch, 4:26 AM. He debated whether he should hang out at the station till day break or walk the 2 kilometers to his aunt's house. The memory of his aunt's hot filter coffee made the decision for him. Gathering his bag resolutely, he stepped into the darkness. As he walked through the small country road the chill night air enveloped him and he felt fresh and wide awake. He began to like his decision to walk even more.

As he trudged along, he felt darkness engulf him from all sides. A kind of darkness you could never see in a city. It was pitch dark. He could hardly see more than a few feet away. The road was lined with coconut trees which were swaying to the night wind and in the darkness, theyde an eerie combination with the whistling of the wind. Distant rumble of a train too added it's bit to the overall effect. He walked on enjoying everything, he couldn't remember the last time when he had been engulfed in such darkness.

Along with the whistling of the wind, he could hear a sudden rasping sound. He looked around, ofcourse, in the darkness, this was futile. The rasping noise was growing clearer and nearer. He switched on his pen torch and shined around him on the road, only to see a figure moving past him and then stopped.

His breath caught in his throat.

Slowly sense returned to him, it was just a bearded man in a cycle. He was probably on his way to work, in his lightless bicycle. The bearded man stared at him, as if he had done something wrong. Then he thought, maybe he had strayed to the centre of the road but hey how was he to know, after all he could hardly see a few feet only. The bearded man turned and got on his cycle and headed his way.

Looking at him go, he felt vaguely unnerved, something about the whole thing didn't sit so well with him. Damn rats! he thought, what a horrible way to start a day. As he picked up the pace he could see some lights ahead, it was his colony in which his aunt stayed. He let a sigh of relief and walked over there, eventually finding his aunt's house among the lot.

After an hour, as he sat in the porch sipping his aunt's famous filter coffee, the unsettling feeling hadn't left him. Something bothered him about the morning's walk. His brain had clouded over and the pieces didn't fit. Then the haze in his mind slowly cleared, his brow furrowed, a trickle of sweat raced down his face. It couldn't be, he thought. No way! It wasn't possible. His brain refused to accept what his memory told him. The clean shaven man on the train, the mustached auto driver and the bearded cyclist, had the same eyes, the same nose, the same height. It couldn't be. How could they be all the same person? How?

He sat up in his chair, rigid.

To be continued...

(Thanks J for editing this one. I hope you'd take the time to write your version of the story, I'd love to put it up here!)

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

This is why this guy is so good! The waiter rules!!

Monday, October 09, 2006

On the road again...

I'm off to Mussoorie (phew! what a frickin tough name) for about 4 days. Yeah, it's the same hill station Kris Colombo discovered during his quest for Missouri (Yuck! 'orrible joke, wot?)

You are ofcourse welcome to wander around my blog (thats not applicable to you Amma!) till I come back with another post.

Mom Alert!

She lurks in the shadows of the internet stalking her prey. She is even rumoured to have finally cracked the code and found the URL for this blog.

So Amma, if you find yourself here (again), welcome to my blog, your presistence has paid off. Now lets have a few rules:

a) My grammar sucks, I know it, so pls stop correcting it coz I'll never learn.
b) What I write here are my thoughts, I shall not be made to feel guilty for them.
c) Try as you may, you will find nothing incriminating here (I've scanned through the whole thing once to just check) :D

I would suggest that you should start writing a blog of your own, this is more fun than project guttenberg. Go to www.blogger.com and set up your own blog, it takes about 5 minutes.

Oh one more thing, you can use the comments section to write how much you liked my posts. A bit of maternal pride never hurts hehe.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

The quick and the dyed

At the Adyar Park Hotel is this barbershop called Salon 2000, herein works the Wizard of Click. The Wizard's real name is Selvam and he is known as the Wizard because he had in about 25 years of his career made men feel fantastic about their average mane. He was especially good with bald and balding men. They flock to him in droves and to get an appointment with the most famous pair of scissors this side of the vindhyas requires a lot of patience and to the true connoisseur of haircuts it is worth the wait.

What makes him special, you ask. It's the experience, the time spent, the exquisite detailing and the eventual execution of it all transcends this from a mere haircut to be a work of art. With the Wizard hovering around you, his scissors clicking away you become, rather your head becomes a canvas for him to create.

I've noticed that with bald men most of the clickety click with the hair actually produces very little amount of cut hair but it is a soothing experience nevertheless, hair therapy has a lot to do with perception I guess. Now I'm not bald or anything mind you but I do have a tiny piece of real estate that is barren up there. And to me the once a month visit to the Wizard brings not only the comfort that my hair is cut to perfection but also the heavenly experience of a head massage right after the haircut. Trust me there are a few things that words can't describe and one of them is the head massage ( it's in the same league as my Mom's chicken curry or a rerun of Return of the Jedi).

Last week in eager anticipation of the fantastic experience I trickled over to the aforementioned barbershop, having been lucky to have gotten an appointment. The Wizard was still with his previous customer, so I spent the time going through some film magazines, in the absence of any else to do. In thirty minutes I was pretty engrossed on who's going out with whom and who was divorcing whom and finally my turn was up. As I sauntered in the sight of a figure laying back on the barber's chair with his eyes closed sent shock waves through me. I felt like I had just walked into a crime scene.

To the curious onlooker it would have seemed like a man lying with his eyes closed getting his hair dyed. Hey, there's nothing wrong with that, you think. But to me he has been the reason for most of my hair insecurities . For the past 4 years this man, a business associate, every time we meet would find reasons to pick on my few grey strands (figuratively speaking) and tell me that I was actually older than him (he is 53 to my 32). He would thrust his gelled up lush black hair in my face (figuratively speaking) and proudly claim that he lead a 'no tension' life. His tone would reek of condescension and bad breath (not figuratively). You guys don't know how to handle stress, he would say.

As I stood there staring, he opened his eyes as if alerted by instinct and shock spread over his features. In my mind though, two emotions fought with each other, one said I had to be pissed off with the guy and the other said I hadda smirk. So eventually with a smirking pissed off face, I said 'hi'. He smiled, being completely embarrassed, he mumbled "You came here for a haircut?" (No Einstein, I come here to read film magazines). The look in his face said it all, this bunny knew he was caught in a headlight. Or more like a tormenter caught with his pants down. I just nodded and smiled, enjoying his obvious discomfort.

The Wizard was holding a chair waiting for me so I walked over to it and settled down. After a few how do you dos and how's your families the Wizard and I settled down to work at hand. Him being the clicker and me the clickee.

The Wiz noticing the dye job happening and turned my chair around to face that chair. He asked me if I would like to get my hair dyed and told me that I had few more grey hairs than the last time. He had me worried.

The bunny next chair turned his head and looked at me. His eyes narrowed into tiny slits as he stared at me in anticipation of my answer. Much like Darth Vader waiting for Luke to join the ole Dark Side bandwagon.

I looked at him unblinkingly.

Tension filled the air. As I squinted at him, he was waiting for me to say yes but I had to shut him down, I just had to. I told the Wizard that I liked the few whites in my hair just the way it was.

Just as soon as the impasse started, it ended. The bunny had lost, he would never rub that lush (fake) black hair on my nose again (figuratively speaking). The Wizard resumed clicketting and I closed my eyes and wafted slowly into heaven.

(Note : Ok so this post didn't go so well. I reread the piece and found it crappy but hey everything goes, right? :P )

Friday, September 29, 2006

The girl with the pink sunglasses

Adjusting her slinky black cocktail dress and her large pink sunglasses she trudged along at a fair clip on the long jogger's lane early that morning. Not exactly the right attire, she knew. Maybe she should have changed before she took off yet she knew she looked stunning in that dress and she just had to wear it. She looked at the rising sun and felt nothing at all, as one would have expected of her. She found more beauty in that closed ice cream parlour by the side of the beach, her mind raced in a thousand directions, yet the look on her face was serenity that you'd see in a child. The occassional sniffling reminded you of a little baby too. She picked up the pace and trudged faster, she had decided on loosing 0.05 Kilos that morning and she was a girl on a mission.

As she walked she spied a little mouse running helter skelter and she knew she had to stop and admire the random patterns that it made, she frankly found poetry in the oddest of places. She sat down on a bench, to watch the mouse and found herself lost in time. After a while the ringing of her phone woke her up from her thoughts, she sighed. 'Hallooo' she said. It was just the 6:30 AM alarm that she'd kept on her phone. She looked at the phone as if it had played a trick on her, smiled her bashful smile and resumed the mouse watching. The mouse though had left as if upset by it's audience's lack of attention. It had reminded her curiously of her favourite movie, Pulp Fiction, with it's random patterns. It was a movie she fell in love with before she even saw, it was the concept of it all, you see? can't you?

She got up to go, remembering that she probably had about 0.035 kilos left to loose that day. She picked up the pace as the sun had come up and the harsh glare shrouded the world below. Giggling to herself as she remembered the night before, maybe the third chocolate lava lava at the Mocha Cafe had been a bit too much but then she consoled herself that all good things must come in threes. She sighed again and walked a little faster, her december deadline seemed coming on too fast. No more lava lavas till december she resolved, only to hear a little voice in her head that asked her if she was really very sure about this decision. She pretended she didn't hear this little voice and turned her head to a side.

One would be forgiven in thinking why she needed to push herself thus or have deadlines at all but her mind had ideas which are not to be understood by mere men. A perfect body was a cliche, she knew, yet if it was a cliche she sought then she wanted it to be the best cliche she could fit into.

After awhile of walking, she felt she had grown a little lighter and she smiled wide. The walk was doing her a world of good she felt, only to realise that she indeed was a little lighter but lighter by the weight of a cellphone, the same one which she had left in the park bench. With yet another sigh, a few Ooofs and more than few not-agains she started running back to her bench, the pink sunglasses, the cocktail dress, the tennis shoes and all.

Yet another day had just started in the life of the girl with the pink sunglasses.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

What do you think of Jesus?

'What do you think of Jesus?', a question that one encounters rarely, if ever, if one were to avoid bible thumping meetings, like I have. So when I did encounter these words, I was uncharacteristically dumb struck, knowing me like I do, this is a rarity. It all started when my Mom called me at work wanting me to speak to a girl. If you think that moms are fun people who are bothered about your social life then perish the thought, they seldom are that. Specifically, Moms of 32 year old unmarried men have only one thought, to find a suitable bride for their son. This quest becomes their life's mission, very much like Indiana Jones chasing the holy grail.

Hence when Mom called me up, I really wasn't leaping with joy as I normally would knowing a girl wanted to speak to me, being a lifetime member of the always-seeking-a-date club. Unable to fend off the ageing relic's request, I dialed up the number to this girl who lived in another town. She sounded pleasant enough and she told me that apart from my photograph (sneaky Mom at work) and my bio-data (sneaky strikes again), she didn't know anything about me, I told her apart from her phone number and her first name, she was a stranger to me too. Undetered she brushed aside this minor detail and said that there was something she'd like to know from me. My mind raced with thoughts, did she want to know if I had a hole in my socks? Or would she like to know if I preferred my martini shaken or stirred? Would I have to hide the fact that I have my coffee before I brushed my teeth or was she ready for such a profound truth?

Well, it was then that she asked me this question, 'What do you think of Jesus?' Just as I had mentioned earlier, I was gobsmackingly dumbfounded. All I could blurt out was ' I dunno, what do you think of Him'?. She sighed and told me that Jesus was her personal savior. I had to tell her it was a damn good answer, what can I say, it was too. I really couldn't have drummed that one up in a hurry myself. She said that she was a born again Christian and that she expected her future husband to be deeply religious and born again too. I had been weighed and found very sadly wanting. I assured her that I was thoroughly satisfied with being born once.

Come to think of it, if given a choice I would much rather be born again as a lion, rather than a human. I assure you it's got nothing to with the Pride (aka the lion harem & kids) or the fact that lions can have sex 50 times a day (can you believe it? I wonder who counted though, not the lion for sure coz it must have been too busy *wink*), it was more due to the king of the jungle thingy (combined with the flowing mane thingy). I'm sure it must be awesome to be the king, anywhere. And also it's must be fun to be on top of the food chain, don't you think?

Back to our telephone conversation, after being told that I really wasn't much of a Christian and hence not much of a husband material for her, I had to point out to her that I hardly knew her and I wasn't getting the right vibes from her either. We definitely seemed to be in opposite ends of the spectrum. I despite being religious, seldom am conventional in my belief prefer to keep my interactions with God as personal as possible and often quick to question practices that go in the name of God, which are cruel or illogical. And as for her, well she happened to be the Christian equivalent of a party animal. Thankfully the conversation degenerated and ended rather rapidly. I wished her all the best, I'm sure there must be a bible reading, group prayer attending guy for her somewhere.

Arranged marriages are at best, marriages of conveniences, we end up seeking people who we think we 'can' exist with, (as opposed to 'wanting' to exist with someone specific). More often than not we end up compromising ours dreams or worse, being a compromise for someone else's dreams. In our quest for quick fit relationships, we go around asking people questions that are seldom important, forgetting that differences are what makes life more interesting rather than boring similarities.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Some thoughts..

I've had so many thoughts and stories to write but no words to write them with. Somehow I've blundered onto another one of those writer's block. So instead of writing about something specific I thought I would write as I think, in freestyle.

I haven't been able to read a whole lot of blogs for a long time, from what I've seen it seems that this is a period of deep introspection with a lot of people. I think August does that to you, it is a month which is stuck in the middle of nowhere, it's neither winter nor summer and infact it doesn't even make up it;s mind on being a rainy month either. You must have guessed by now that I'd rather blame my moods and problems on anything but on myself, it's incredible how well this works. I call this blame-shedding (ok, that's a term I invented just now, but doesn't it sound cool?).

A few weeks ago, I had gone to Jaipur, the capital city of the state of Rajasthan, which lives up to it's reputation of being incredibly beautiful and very exotic. The reason I was there was not to travel around this beautiful city but to attend a leadership training program organised by my company. While most of the training was unremarkable one segment made me think. We were given a questionnaire and based on our responses we were graded into 4 different categories. The first category was the activists who were the aggressive go getter types, the second were pragmatists who were realists, they were followed by the reflectors who were thinkers and the theorists who like to play by the rules. We were explained the features of each of the labels. I personally fel that all of us exhibit all four characteristics when we are called upon to do so. After a while, we were asked to make a presentation on our own positives and negatives.

What was remarkable (and not an output that was expected by the trainers) was that we all ended up subconsciously performing the roles we were assigned, ie, talking about us in a way that we suited the label that we were given. The activists, behaved rather overly boisterous and sometimes disruptive, the theorists (some of whom were actually very funny people) sounded meek, dour and bookish, etc. Now this made me think about how much we resemble computers, or more appropriately how much computers resemble us. We have been living out social stereotypes for thousands of years that it is easy for us to slip into a role and start performing in what we think is a socially accepted manner. Haven't we labeled ourselves as introvert or extrovert, or as liberal or conservative and have used these labels to dictate our behavior and thoughts?

I am reminded of my Mom, who retired last year. She was never a very overtly religious person but ever since she retired, like her sisters she has begun collecting religious tapes and plays them quite frequently which ever room she is in. This ofcourse has been the subject of several discussions at home but my Mom's willpower being what it is, she always gets to do what she wanted to do. Once when she was listening to a tape, I realised with dismay that she was also singing along. When I got close to her, I realised while the tune was the same as the religious song, the words were from the rhyme "A bear went over the mountain..". Controlling my laughter, I went my way. But to coming back to my point, my Mom feels it necessary that at the age of 60 that she has to be religious, like most Indian women are at this age. I hardly see any other reason for her behavior. (I myself am labeling her in a particular way so that I can write off her behavior without further thought).

Come to think of it, almost all of us feel that our 'roles' demand a certain type of behavior and knowingly or unknowingly we slip into a mode of fulfilling these roles. We start following set patterns, to show success, we buy expensive cars, build larger houses, wear expensive clothes. If you were to think of it, there would be hundreds of societal patterns and labels that you would detect in your life. Infact during the invasion of Iraq & during the American Presidential elections, I felt that the anti-war protestors were labeled as leftist liberals, ie, it was a way of telling others that 'hey these are left leaning liberals, and this is the way that they are supposed to think and react'. So rights and wrongs were eventually viewed differently by different people, depending on which label that they had picked for themselves.

All along history, just because someone belongs to a particular country, he/she is expected to blindly follow all or atleast most of the blind beliefs of his/her fellow men. One example here in our subcontinent is that if one is Indian, one is supposed to be against all things Pakistani. We fight them through diplomacy, at the borders, through covert operations and even through cricket. I know there was a partition, I know there were two wars, I know a lot of trouble in India is created by Pakistan's ISI but I don't know why these countries hate each other so much (especially since both have made friends with the British who ruled them for a long time) in the first place. Does anyone know?

Today, the trouble that is brewing in the middle east and spilling over to the rest of the world is largely a result of programmed behavior. People are psyching each other to hate others who are different, think about it and tell me I'm wrong. No one really knows why there are so many terrorist cells sprouting due to hate everywhere, neither can people explain why some people are targeted for treatment akin to abuse in the western world. Is it that people hate or mistrust an individual or a group of people due to some evidence about them in specific? Or is it that people are programmed to hate or distrust someone who appears in a particular manner? The media with it's powerful imagery has a huge role to play in creating labels, as do politicians with vested interests.

Has anyone stopped for a minute to think of what would be the fall out of a spread of hate? Have we even spent a good goddamn minute to think of this as human beings rather than players of a particular 'role'? When we can easily condemn the behavior of others, have we questioned ours or that of people we consider our own?

I am not advocating peace on Earth and all that good stuff (though that wouldn't be a bad thing) but about how we have as a species have started giving up our rights to think and probably behave as individuals who are out of our usual 'roles', choosing to dwell within the comforts that performing a role offers. So our thoughts very often are 'I'm so and so, so my thoughts and behavior should be in such a way, so why bother to question them at all?'

When the movie Terminator, talked about a domination of the world by machines in this century, I think the makers of the movie were more right than they would have thought. We are in many ways, machines that come with certain set specifications.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Travelling

Ever since I heard two weeks that my job would be little bit more lighter, I've ended up travelling just about every day! Well, it's all good coz I like my job. Now, I'm off to beautiful Jaipur the city of palaces for a 4 day training programme followed by a day in Delhi to catch up with the Boss.

I should be back with a few posts by the middle of next week. In the meanwhile my blogroll seems to have been fairly active so do check these fine blogs out.

I leave you with the immortal words of a very wise man (from his movie 'A Night in Casablanca', one of my all-time favourites), this is Groucho Marx (Ronald Cornblow) saying ' From now on the essence of this hotel will be speed. If a customer askes you for a three-minute egg, give it to him in two minutes. If he askes you for a two-minute egg, give it to him in one minute. If he askes you for a one-minute egg, give him the chicken and let him work it out for himself!'.

I'm off! Up up and away!!

Friday, July 21, 2006

A connection

It was a hectic day by all standards at work, I had to complete a few things so I worked till about 8 PM in the night. As I was walking out of office I thought about how unhinged my life had become, I really just wasn't connecting with people anymore. Everything about my life had something to do with my job. Work had taken prominance in life and everything else was an interruption. I couldn't remember the last time when life was fun.

It was then that I decided to walk around in Spencers a large shopping mall here in Chennai. Maybe being around a large group of people would help, I thought.

As I walked through Spencer's many corridors among the many people the feeling of being unconnected was forever growing worse. I just didn't think I was human anymore, I just didn't feel I was a part of these people who were shopping, laughing eating, walking etc. I sat in Spencer's huge food court surrounded by people and feeling so much out of touch with everything that was around me.

I was an alien or so I felt, I didn't belong with these people. I started feeling claustrophobic, so ditching the dinner I made my way out of the mall and into the warm summer night.

I decided to walk for awhile and work through my thoughts. As I made my way through the abandoned pavements watching cars whiz past, my mind kept thinking, why do I not connect? Why do I not feel? Why am I so skeptical of everything? I just knew all the questions but the answers weren't really forthcoming.

As I made my troubled walk through the dark main road, I began hearing a low moaning from within the darkness of the pavement.

I was apprehensive. It was a desolate part of the road and I wasn't too sure what was around. Against my better judgement I walked closer to the noise. To my shock it was a lady lying down in the pavement. She could have been anywhere from 60 to 75 years old and she looked very weak. A quick appraisal told me her story, her begging bowl was empty, she must have been sitting there all day in the scorching summer sun begging for alms without a lot of success and eventually had become too weak to walk out of there. It had been one of those crazily hot days with the temperature reaching 45C, not exactly a pleasant day by any standards.

I asked her if I could help her, she nodded and told me that she hadnt eaten all day. She wanted to know if I could spare some money for food. I said yes and gave her what I could. She took the money with her hands shaking and thanked me profusely. As I turned to leave I realised that she couldn't possibly go anywhere in that state, so I asked her if I could get her some food. She nodded again. I rushed across the road and on to a nearby lane in search of food and finally found a small bunk shop. They just had pepsi and bananas and they didn't sell any water. I got both and rushed back to the old lady.

She took the pepsi from my hands and drank it thirstily, I think this must have been her first drink of the day. I sat next to her on the pavement, wondering if she needed to be taken someplace for care. She refused to go anywhere. I then asked her if she had a place to stay, she said she has a shack which was a few kilometers down the road and she would catch a bus presently. She had visibly brightened after the drink, the sugar water giving her some instant energy. When she regained some strength in her voice she wished me and told me that I would live well and my children would be prosperous.

She started pulling her self up from the pavement, still worried, I asked her if she had someone to take care of her. She looked at me with her kind eyes and said softly "I have you, my grandson". I had a strange lump on my throat, as I watched her hobble away to the bus stop.

I slowly made my way to an auto stand across the road, thinking about the events in the past few minutes.

I guess that in those few moments she had helped me a lot more than I had helped her, she had made me feel human & connected, if only for a few moments, a few precious minutes.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Mama! I think I can see!

Fourscores and a few days ago, my blog along with tons of other bogs were blocked from public view. And it wasn't for the shockingly average writing either. Blogspot & Typepad blogs were blocked in our fair country due to doubts by authorities that blogs were being used as a propoganda too for anti-nationals and also that blogs were used for communication by terrorists.

While this blog and others would love to help the authorities in the interest of national safety, it appears that this block was, in technical terms, a 'balls up'. The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) authorities it appears, had given a list blogs to be banned and the Internet Service Providers (ISPs) instead of blocking just those blogs have decided to block the whole she-bang. While asked asked to comment an ISP Manager articulated "We blocked the whole she-bang" with a firm nod. "The Whooooole She-Bang baby" reiterated the Deputy Manager, giving his boss an amorous look. They resisted further queries on how this could have happened and instead wanted to know more about 'group blogs'.

On the topic of this grave assault on the Freedom of Speech of thousands of bloggers in the country, the ISPs have pointed out that technically blogging was not speaking and hence were exempt from any kind of protection through the Freedom of Speech Act. Bloggers have now been urged to 'say the words aloud as they type their blogs' to avail of the protection of Freedom of Speech, by their lawyers. ISPs have indicated earlier today that that may convene their Committee for Verification of Uniform Practice (shortly known as CoVer UP) to investigate this incident and submit a report. When queried about this and the timelines that would be given to the committee for submission of results, the two ISP officials interviewed conferred together in a huddle for 15 minutes. After several arguments, 4 phone calls and atleast one wet kiss, the manager emerged with a response of " shortly". "Before the cows came home" added the giggling Deputy Manager, he though refused to explain the bovine link to this whole sordid affair.

Industry insiders on the other hand point out that this blocking could be because of the basic human stupidity accounts for more than 76.52% of all bad things in India. Though the figures in the US are slightly higher at 78.44%, most stupidity there is said to be concentrated on one location, the White House. These figures are brought to us by Unnecessary Counts Inc., the American company that specialises in data assimilation where none was required.

Bloggers have organised themselves into a motley crowd and have attempted to tackle this issue head on armed with their uncanny ability to make tons of noise. This noise making seems to have had it's effect and ISPs are slowly beginning to release the block on the blogs. Regular service appears imminent and bloggers eagerly are rushing back to their blogs, with the exception of a few bloggers like myself have been heard muttering"Oh bugger, not the same ole crappy blog".

(THIS POST STYLES ITSELF LOOSELY ON THE BOROWITZ REPORT MODEL AND INFACT THIS POST MAY COME UP WITH THE IDEA OF ABOUT STUPIDITY BEING CENTRED IN THE WHITE HOUSE FROM SIMILAR STORIES IN THE SAID REPORT. OVERALL THIS HAS BEEN ONE SNEAKY LIL RUNT OF A POST!)

p.s. I could see my blog and others through my office network and I thought the issue was over. Later I couldn't see this post but could see up to my previous post. Now from my home connection, I can't access anything again. We are back to square one baby.

UPDATE: Regular service resumes as of Friday evening the block seems to have been released.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

It's been a while since I wrote, a lot has happened in that time, I've won a lottery, I quit my job, bought myself a yacht, travelled nearly halfway around the world, watched a bullfight in Spain, scuba dived off the Greek coast and even caught the the Formula one race in Monaco as it wound through the city streets. It was a fabulous experience to watch those cars from the balcony of my suite with my expensive Italian shoe clad feet up on the railing, while sipping a 1970 Dom Perignon (on ice) and some 2006 Heineken (in fridge) not to mention my delicious new Swedish girlfriend playing with my Rolex Submariner. That evening I had the good luck of winning $100,000 in the baccarat table in my first 30 minutes of gambling, I decided that this kind of a luck deserved a second chance so I tried the roulette tables, promptly loosing that $100,000, the yacht, the Rolex and rest of my lottery winnings too. The later that night I lost my the magnum of Dom Perignon to the room service and the Swedish girlfriend to a Chinese software entreprenuer. My Italian shoes helped me get ticket back home and Heineken made the trip a little better.

So, now that I'm back in Chennai and have taken up the same ole crummy job of mine, I've decided to update my blog again after this long haitus.

Sigh. Ok, that sounds much better than admitting that I've been travelling on the job 3-4 days a week and falling sick ever so often doesn't it? (I've just recovered from a 5 day bout of flu). To be honest my life is as interesting as watching paint dry, hence any kind of imagination helps.

I'm sure those who are clued on to the Indian blogging scenario would be aware that due to some government directive, most Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have blocked most of the blogs ie, blogs that are hosted through either blogspot or typepad. This I am told was aimed at stopping certain inflamatory blogs created by elements wanting to create tension in the country. Now one is able to access blogger to post/edit blogs but not view the blogs themselves. This has been carried out after the ghastly attacks in Mumbai.

Bloggers here in India have been rallying together over the last few days to sort this blocking of blogspot & typepad issue out with the authorities and also to find solutions to avoid similar occurances in the future. I request you to take your time to read through this and provide your support to this cause.

http://censorship.wikia.com/wiki/Bloggers_Against_Censorship

Now about the Mumbai Terror Attacks, I was in the city a couple of days after the attacks and it was business as usual in the large and sometimes imposing city. I know a lot has been said about the spirit of Mumbai and Mumbaikars, one has always held them in highest of regards for their work ethics, it's a city where people would travel 4-5 hours a day to work but would not compromise on the quality or the quantity of work that they put in. Mumbai truly a city with an attitude, I shall always hold it very high in my esteem. My heart goes out to those who have lost their loved ones and those who were injured. As Indians and as World citizens, the one thing we should do is not to forget their losses. Terrorism will not be an accepted fact of life, not now, not ever.

Do look out for more posts. For the time being, instead of leaving a comment on the blog, kindly send it to me as an email (opinionsunlimited@gmail.com) so, I can read & respond, remember you can see my blog but I don't think I can till this issue gets resolved.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

The Fugitive

It was an ice cold winter evening. He made is way slowly through the dark street, looking around furitively. Was it just hours before that he had escaped? Was it just minutes? His mind was numb. Have to get away, he thought.

He was new to the neighbourhood, he looked around suspiciously. Was he far away from his prison? Was he safe? For all he knew, he could be going in circles. He longed for the comfort of the woods, he would be safe in the woods. He knew it. They won't be able to find him. As hard as he looked, he could find no wooded area around, it was all a concrete jungle. He sighed. Just his luck!

The sound of the radio playing in a nearby diner caught his attention, the smell of food came wafting soon after. He even could see that the kitchen door on the side was invitingly open. Did he dare stop? He could sneak in and out of the kitchen in no time. His sense screamed. It had been almost two days since he had any food. His bones stuck out from his body in odd angles. Being thin had helped though. Helped him in squeezing through the small opening on the wall. He decided against the diner, he just had to keep running. Safety first, and always.

Somewhere he could hear someone wailing. He kept running. He had to. The rule of the street, watch out for your own back. If he stopped, it would be the end. He just couldn't go back to the prison. He could remember the gaunt faces of the others in there, a cold shiver ran through his body, his pace quickened automatically.

Despite everything the wind through his hair felt nice. How long has it been? Too long. Too long. But never again he thought. He reached an open area, cars whizzing past, people going home from work. Home. Home with Lila. When will I ever see her? He felt a catch in his throat, he tried to push these thoughts out of his head but they kept coming back, Home. Of Sweet Lila, He just wanted to be with her more than ever.

The next few minutes were a blur, a car screached as he looked up, staring in a trance at the headlights. Then as soon as it started, it all became blank.

He stirred slowly, stretching his sinewy body automatically, every bone seemed to ache. He opened his eyes and looked around, he was back! His heart sank, the prison seemed to close around him. Then he saw him, the man in the white lab coat.

He seethed with anger at the mere sight of that man. He snarled and tried to get up but he was strapped down. He growled with frustration, his words came out in a torrent of frustration and fear, he screamed Woof! Woof! Woof! Woof!

Saturday, June 17, 2006

The Useless Bridge

As bridges go, this one isn't much to look at. It's a dingy, covered bridge made of iron and it spanned across one of the most crowded roads in chennai, the Nungambakkam High Road. This lump of metal stands right next to my office so it is hard to avoid. A few days after I joined my company I was going for lunch with a colleague, I asked her if we should take the bridge and I was promptly told that it was crazy to walk all the way up and over to the otherside in the Chennai heat! The bridge, she said, was useless. People apparently would rather risk being runover by a large city bus than to take a bridge to cross a road, thats just the way it is. We Chennaiites who find the stock market too risky apparently seem to think nothing of a walk across a road filled with hurtling vehicles of all sizes.

I too feel into a pattern of crossing the road, risking life and limb everytime I did so. Every once in a while though, I would stop near the bridge thinking if I should climb it, then eventually giving up the idea and risking the oncoming traffic. One fine evening I finally decided to give this seemingly useless bridge some business. I approached it in the darkness and climbed up. I had assumed that there wouldn't be anyone there, I was wrong. There was a gentleman, apparently homeless, sitting there in the landing, with a few large wooden boxes around him, he looked up at me when I walked past him. I don't know who was more surpised, him or me. Then when I reached the top of the bridge, I suddenly realised that the bridge was occupied by more than two dozen people. They were bunched in groups of 4-5, sitting there in the near darkness and talking. Realisation stuck that these groups were actually families who were using this bridge as their home.

Boxes were neatly stacked on the sides, children were running around or sitting on the side of the bridge watching the traffic. The menfolk talking in corners, the womenfolk preparing dinner.

As I crossed family after family, I could sense everyone's eyes on me as I navigated through the pathway. Somehow I felt that a banker slinging a bulging briefcase was a regular sight there. Actually, not everyone was looking at me, the kids were sitting on the sides of the bridge, their legs dangling mid air, through the iron work on the side of the bridge. These kids were seem to be transfixed on what appeared to be their regular evening activity, traffic watching. I felt more and more guilty since it felt like I was passing through someone's living room without their permission.

It was sad when one realised that all these folks had in their lives were there in those wooden cartons. I was thinking about the great advances our country has made over the last few decades, I really can't help but feel that we have left a large chunk of the population behind. Rising land prices have ensured that in the city, to own home you really have to have fairly large resources or atleast you need good cashflows that a bank can lend against. Over the years as we have been beating our chests about how much we have grown as a country, we seem to have left a lot of our countrymen and women behind.

The homeless in the roads, the small buisnesses that have shut due to competition from larger companies, the farmers who have been forced to sell their lands due to rapid urbanisation, effects of our growth are plenty and are all around us, if we choose to see them.

I know there are no quick fix solutions for the plight of the homeless, so if we can't build them homes to live in, lets atleast build more such ugly 'useless' bridges.

Friday, June 09, 2006

And we're back..

I think I am too self concious when it comes to writing
I think I'm afraid that the world would someday point at my blog and laugh
I think somtimes I worry too much about being responsible for a failure
I think the confusion in my blog reflects my life

There...I said it. Phew!



Tired and frustrated after a long, difficult and tough week, I travelled back from Bangalore to Chennai a little earlier than usual in the evening to catch the opening match of the football World Cup. All I wanted to do is get a beer and watch soccer on my own.

If I had got what I wanted, then it would have been a perfect evening. And life as we know, is seldom perfect.

What I did get was the prospect of 'bonding' with my parents. Now that they've retired from work they have all the time in the world and really look forward to spending time with me. I should be feeling great about this, I know. But sometimes I feel that life was much more comfortable when they were working, they would be doing their own thing, which was dad being in his study, with work that he carried back home and mom in the bedroom, reading, too tired for any conversation.

I love them to bits, yet there are moments when I wish I wasn't a 32 year old man who is confused with his life, prefering solitude over human contact but I just am, as guilty as that makes me feel.

Anyway there we were watching the game like a billion other people in the world. You could have picked out the fact that these two didn't know much about soccer in a few minutes of spending time with them.

As we were watching the starting few minutes of the Germany vs. Costa Rica, mom started her round of questions,

Mom: Who are the guys in white?
Me: Germany
Mom: Who are the guys in red?
Me: Costa Rica
Mom: Who is the guy in yellow? the referee?
Me: Yes

After a while...

Mom: Can the goalkeeper pick his own colour?
Me: eh?
Mom: Why is he wearing blue? And the other keeper is wearing black..
Me: eh..

Dad who had been on the phone, came into the conversation immediately after Germany scored their first goal in the 6th minute.

Dad: Why are they jumping? Is the match over so soon?
Me: No, Germany just scored a goal
Dad: Ah..is the match live?
Mom: Appa (Dad) can you see the words 'LIVE' written on the corner of the screen?
Dad: Ah. So it is live..
Mom *does her own limited edition roll of the eyes*

As the match progressed both the teams started playing very attacking soccer, the crucial moments were peppered with verbal gems like

Mom: I think the players shouldn't shave their heads...
Dad: Why?
Mom: They can't seem to head the ball into the goal properly..

Dad: The Costa Rican goalkeeper isn't very good...he is letting Germany score at will
Mom: No, the german goalkeeper is bad, he looks sleepy...

Dad: The TV commentator will raise everyone's BP by screaming everytime the ball is near the goal..
Mom: Score a goal, score a goal! (This was when Costa Rica was near Germany's goal)


Then came the fun tete a tete with dad,

Dad: Do you want mangoes?
Me: No Appa
(A 15 second pause)
Dad: Potato Chips?
Me: No
(A 15 second pause)
Dad: Guava?
Me: No
(A 15 second pause)
Dad: Pineapple sweet?
Me: No Appa!
(A 15 second pause)
Dad: Lime Juice?
Me: (sigh) No
(A 15 second pause)
Dad: I can get you...
Me: No dad, please I'd like to watch the corner kick...just want to watch the game.
Dad: ok...lots of foodstuff at home...
Me: (sigh) Ok

Though I was nearly gritting my teeth, I also knew the care that were behind his words. A blardy catch 22 situation if ever there was one.

Then when Wanchope of Costa Rica scored his second goal to bring his team to within one goal difference of Germany, my mother who was passive so far sat up like a bullet. Her arms were flailing and she was shouting 'Go Go Go' and I think in that moment she would have gotten a Costa Rican passport if some official of that country was around. And every time Costa Rica had possession she would mutter 'score a goal, score a goal' staring intently at the screen, like she was using her willpower to help them score (I guess it only works when she wants to get Dad to do something). Anyway she was a firm Costa Rica fan this night. Everyone loves an underdog, right?

And as the match progressed, my mood changed from that of frustration to that of silent thoughtfulness. I looked at these two people with me and I realised that in a way off late they were making up for all the time that they spent away from me as a kid when they were busy working. And that watching a strange soccer game with me was just about the only thing they wanted to do in life at that moment.

Somehow the week or the evening didn't seem so bad in the end, I think I'd love to come back to this reception any week of my life. Any week of my life.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

End of one road and the beginning of another journey

I started blogging last year around the same time infact. When I started on this journey I hardly expected it to reach a year, I never expected to write as much as I did.

For a while I've had this feeling that I should put an end to this little project of mine. What could be a better time than doing it now when I've completed one year.

Thanks to blogging, I've made a lot of friends and have had some sadness as well. I realise one thing though, the world isn't shaped by talkers but by doers. I don't mean to brand blogging as a useless activity but in today's TV memory world, what one writes about is soon forgotten a webpage is important only till you read it. Writing ends up a mere selfish activity for the writer.

My life has seen lots of ups and downs in the last year, I think it's time that I changed a lot of things in it. I'd like to live more, be out there in the real world, travel, meet people, open my eyes to the wonders that this world has to offer. I aim to do just that.

Now, I'd like to thank Cheesecakey, -c, jaygee, the cowlick & Dusty. Without their support this blog would really haven't reached a year. These guys are nice writers in their own respect and do check out their blogs.

I would have left you a word of advice but advice is cheap, you know all that you need to run your life so dear reader I wish you all the best and many adventures!!

Monday, May 22, 2006

No More

As bloggers go, I think they can be broadly classified into two categories, the ones who write as a creative outlet and the others who write so people would read their stuff. I firmly belong to the second category. I like attention. I think 98.56% of men crave attention. The rest don't, only because they already have it. I guess we just stop short of walking around with a "Look at Me!" neon signboards attached to us.

Take the case of George W., he wanted to grow out of being called George H W.'s son so he invaded Iraq and started calling himself a War President. Or take the case of David Blaine, the magician, can a guy go any further in craving for attention?? When you think about it the list is endless on how men make absolute asses of themselves to seek the one thing they want, attention. Having said this, much of human achievement has also been fueled by these Look at Me moments.

Women on the other hand are different, sure they would like people to look at them but they don't go overboard in doing so, you would seldom find a gal stuck in a fishbowl for a week for the sheer heck of it or see a girl child shouting 'Look Ma, no hands!!'. Most women like to be noticed but only few crave the centre stage. Anytime your wife or your girlfriend wears a new dress, if you look at her appreciatively she would like it, but if you give her the full appraisal, she'd start getting nervous or worse, clobber you with the nearest handy object.

Talking about new dresses, when you are asked for an opinion on a new dress by a girl the best way to go about it is to look at her with your head tilted to a side, let a small smile playing in your lips and to cap it off give out a sigh of pure pleasure (I think I read about this technique someplace) Trust me I've tried this a few times and it worked every single time! Careful about using this technique on men because it can can lead to issues you don't really want to face.

Offlate I've realised that I've been looking forward too much for people's opinions of my blog, rather than focussing on the quality of writing. I'm afraid my posts seems to have ended up being at best 'cute' (to quote a frequent reader) rather than being a true reflection of my thoughts and experiences. Offlate there aren't many posts that I myself would like to read. So, in short, I don't think you can expect more posts in this blog for awhile....

Thursday, May 04, 2006

The Japanese Encounter

Yesterday was one of those rare days when I had all the time in the world for lunch. So I thought I'd use the time to rented a few DVDs too. As I headed out of the the video library I saw an old neon sign for a japanese restaurant in the same complex. Now this was an old and derelict building, with hardly more than one or two commercial establishments in it. I was surprised to see an 'Authentic' Japanese restuarant in it too. As I made my way through the dark and dingy corridor I was a bit apprehensive because I didn't quite know what kind of a joint this was.

I opened the door to the restaurant and I stepped in. I was immediately taken aback because of a total transformation I just witnessed. I had entered a brightly lit restaurant, filled with japanese people. To think that a second back I was in a dark corridor, wondering if there would be anyone beyond that dark door, I was stunned. I don't think, they expected any indian guy to walk in too for they all looked surprised. Everyone was looking at me as if they were wondering what the heck I was doing there. I hesistantly asked the gentleman at the counter for a table. I was politely directed to the one free table in the room. As I sat I looked around, It was as if I had stepped into a transportation warp which had carried me from chennai to japan.

There were rows of books, which I found out after craning my neck were in japanese, the television was showing a japanese language programme and the people in the restaurant were talking in japanese ofcourse. The manager of the restaurant, walked over to me with a menu and handed it to me with half a bow. I flipped it open and scanned it intently, there were nice pictures of all the dishes they served. I pointed to a picture and looked at the manager questioningly. He stonily pointed to the words 'Grilled Fish' written in English(along with it's Japanese version) right next to the picture . I nodded wisely, I was on to their system now. I flipped through the pages again as he stood silently, eventually I looked up and asked him for the day's specials. He sneezed. I 'bless you'd' him and asked him again, for which he sneezed again. Doubts about the hygene levels were beginning to worry me now. I looked on, waiting, he looked at me, took a deep breath and slowly mouthed the word 'S U S H I' and then said it again fast. I realised that he hadn't really been sneezing in the first place, he had just being saying sushi very fast and half nodding everytime he said that. A genunine misunderstanding there.

I shook my head and told him sternly that dead raw fish was out. I flipped the pages of the menu again. I saw an appealing dish and pointed it out to him. It turned out to be meat and vegetables. He nodded and asked me in a slow voice if I wanted to make that a meal or I wanted just the dish. I couldn't understand it, but it was 2 PM and hunger was making me half crazy, anything that wasn't a full meal would have been a disaster. So I said ok to the meal, which cost about double of what just that dish cost. As he left, a waitress came over and placed a wet napkin and a bowl of brown liquid. Not knowing if I should wash my hands with the liquid like a finger bowl or drink it, I decided to give it a miss. Better safe than sorry, right?

The meal arrived. The laugh was on me, the difference between just the dish and the meal which was double the price was a small bowl of rice and another small bowl of soup. If the japanese manager didn't have to look so distinguished all the time, he would have pointed at me, slapped his thighs and giggled. Anyway, the meat and vegetables did look very good and my mind suddenly realised that there was another large issue, chopsticks. I'd never used one before, I sure as hell couldn't improvise, how do you eat with sticks anyway? The hunger was there and so was the food but the 3 feet between the food and my mouth seem to be a big trip now. The waitress sensing trouble handed me a fork, the angel!

I dug into the food with a relish which I assume was seldom seen in those parts. Every mouthful was pure delight. I looked at the fresh bowl of brown liquid that had been a part of my meal, thankfully it had a spoon in it so it was the food variety not the finger bowl variety. I took a sip it was pure, unadultrated, undiluted varnish. I made a mental note never to trust brown liquids in japanese restuarants.

I finished the meal in no time and paid the bill. Contented, I slowly got up and walked out of the door of the restaurant. As I stepped through the door and into the darkness of the corridor, I felt a tap on my shoulder. I turned back to see the manager of the restaurant, I wondered if I had missed out on some japanese post dinner tradition. He stonily handed me my cellphone which I had left it in the table.

He bowed stiffly and I bowed back clumsily and both of us parted company.

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Porn

Yesterday I was in the video library browsing through some DVDs when I spied two 18 years olds eagerly looking through a shelf that held a particular type of movies, porn, more specifically soft porn. This was the tame & acceptable & over-the-counter kind which get past the censor board. I grinned and shook my head, because I know I've been there in their shoes when I was their age, the anticipation would be killing them now.

Porn is a taboo subjects here in India & One hardly finds many blogs even writing about it and it sure isn't dinner time conversation. When queried by their girlfriends or wives most men my age would admit that they have seen porn sometime or the other in their lives but weren't 'really' into it. I've claimed that too. But truth be told, we men find porn fascinating, there is no wonder that most porn videos are directed at men. Most of us guys get through with this obsession between the healthy age group of 18-25 and move on with their lives but some just get stuck on porn for the rest of their lives. This was the case of my former housemate DM, now DM in the year 2000 was a respectable and upstanding citizen of about 33 years of age. He was known to be the sedate voice in any conversation. He was also widely travelled, well read and a great conversationalist. He also had the largest collection of porn I have ever seen and his appetite for the stuff bordered on insanity.

In our house there was a television in the living room which DM had also hooked up to his hifi system (another of his passions). The intriguing thing about our house was that no matter what time of the day or night you switched on the tv, there would be one of DM's porn video playing. One night I had watched a late night movie on HBO & gone to sleep at about 2 AM. I woke up at about 7 AM and walked over to the living room and switched on the TV to find one of DM's videos running. He found it quite natural to eat, talk & read with a porn video running in the background. Sometimes he combined his passion for porn & hifi systems and the effect was in a word, orgasmic. Before you misunderstand me, I meant the noise levels would reach a cresendo that it would feel that the entire apartment building was having an orgasm. Funny thing though, we never got a single word of complaint from our neighbours.

When DM moved to Australia, he left his considerable collection of illegal porn VCDs to half a dozen of his friends, each guy getting a shoe box full of the best CDs.


Porn is illegal in India, the very fact that almost all the guys and atleast some of the women, have seen porn sometime or the other in their lives is a testament to the considerable black market tht exists in this country. An economy which is supposed to be larger than the legal or the 'white' economy.

In college I remember our code for watching porn, which when translated in english roughly meant "The cow is gonna shit in V's house on friday", this meant that on friday V's house would be empty to watch porn. So about 25 odd guys would land up at V's house to watch one stupid video. (Ok, no animals were involved, despite what that wierd code suggests, it's that kinda stupidity that makes college life fun & crazy). Eventually porn started getting called cowshit, I believe it is still used in our old college even after a dozen years. It's amazing to have witnessed the start of a tradition!

Now, I've always wondered why we men are so fixated with porn. Apart from the normal reasons, I think there are other reasons too. Firstly it's popular because it's banned, the best way to sell a lot of something is to ban it. Secondly I think it also has something to do with the speed of a relationship in a porn video. Why would you not be fascinated if a relationship moves from a hello to sex in under a minute? No dates, no flowers, no birthday cards and certainly no wedding vows.

Then just as it begain everything ends on a proverbial high with a simple goodbye. No divorces, no alimony, no 'you deserve much better than me' kind of talks etc. It's all over & done with in under two hours, just in time to catch your favourite sport on TV.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

32 years and 1 day

Thats how old I am today. 32 and a day. Life has begun it's slow rot, whatever you eat goes straight to your ass, there is more vacant territory in your head than lush black hair. So it's safe to assume that if you aren't looking like Tom Selleck in Magnum PI, then early thirties is when life beguns to suck.

I was a simple & uncomplicated 31 till day the before yesterday and then BANG! Yesterday happened. I woke up at my sister's place in Bangalore, to some wierd noice which I later figured out was my brother in law, he was screaming the happy birthday song all the while playing a guitar (when i say 'playing', I mean the term loosely. You see he doesn't know how to play the guitar but this minor detail hasn't stopped him from 'playing' it at every given opportunity. He is a nice guy though and I get along with him well. So I don't really mind the fact that he is a bit of an airhead, why should I? After all i'm the asshole of the family and people don't seem to mind that).

After the song, I was greeted by the sight of lit candles, they had gotten me a cake!! A nice red one at that, with 'H py Birthday Rabi ' written in white, As my brother in law fixed the video camera, we waited in suspended animation for he doesn't like sudden movements when he is adjusting the moving camera. Then the cacaphony began, the guitar wailed, my brother in law yoddled both of these masking the beautiful singing voices of my sister and neice. The cake was cut and eaten with relish with the added (guilty) thrill of eating cake before brushing one's teeth.

The whole of yesterday I kept receiving a series of phone calls from folks wishing me well, ofcourse the first of whom was a cousin who works for an insurance company (he has been trying to sell me an insurance policy for a long time now). Now this was in sharp contrast with my 31st birthday when everyone plumb forgot. Last year, my parents were out of town so even the pat on the back kinda birthday greeting was missing. I had ended up spending the day getting more morose by the minute because no one called to wish. Most of that day I spent walking into rooms with a surprised look because I was half expecting a surprise party any minute . After about 14 hours of looking surprised I kinda figured out that there was no party and everyone had really forgotten. I ended up spending the evening back home with the dogs and a pizza was not exactly the best of experiences plus the dogs were more interested in the pizza. I was used to being in the thick of action on my birthdays and this was a shocker for me.

So I really wasn't looking forward to much yesterday when I reached office. Human Resources department sent me a birthday geeting which made me smile then frown when I read the bottom of the message that contained the words 'This is an automated message, Kindly do not reply to this ID' . I decided that this automated message wasn't going to dampen my mood. I guess in it's own quirky way HR tries it's best. I spent most of the day trying to get the month end transactions through and the nice thing about a nice day was that everything that can go wrong doesn't go wrong. I guess there is something to the 'think positive' crap that one reads in these self help books. I finished up with work early and caught the 5:15 PM flight to Chennai to get back home to a nice home cooked meal.

When I reached home I found my birthday gift from dad, my old motorbike sitting there gleaming like new. I had grown out of using that bike a few years ago and it had since then accumulated dust and rust due to neglect. Now it was waiting for me, like a dear old friend I had lost touch with. I just had to take a ride, so I did. The feeling of wind through my hair , the odour of hot tar from the hot road (something one gets used to on a hot summer evening) took me a few years back in time. I remembered the time when I had bought the bike, I can remember that day like it was yesterday, I remembered the feeling of true freedom, a feeling only you can get with your first bike. The hours I spent on that bike, the mad escapades, the hot dates, the close palls, the spills and the near spills. All those memories locked deep inside sprang out and started creating some splendid madness in my mind.

There was this curious feeling in my heart a feeling I had not known for a few months now, it was a feeling that I was at peace with the world around me and all was well. And dad had done it again in his own quiet way. What a great dood!

I know birthdays shouldn't be a great deal but reaching one every year somehow has been special for me even though it meant that I turned 32 (ugh!). I think it's a day which reaffirms the affection people have for you (even though they forgot you last year) and the affection you have for them. To me, yesterday was a special day, a day that taught me to live my life rather than to just exist.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

From the McCracken Archives

This post by Patti McCracken one of my favourite bloggers talks about immigration rules in some European countries have targetted muslim immigrants with some absurd requirements.

Quote "The Netherlands made headlines in recent weeks when it announced it would force applicants from Muslim countries to view videos of topless sunbathers and homosexual contact, to determine if they were ready to immigrate to the liberal Netherlands. And the German state of Baden-Wurttemberg wants to follow suit with its own video on gays and nudity, and already has composed a controversial questionnaire that has some leaders up in arms"

Now as much as someone has the rights to bathe in the nude or to indulge in homosexual contact, people have a right to be opposed to these things too. Now would Netherlands or Germany throw out all those who find this behavior offensive? I'm sure they'd have to start with a lot of grandmothers & grandfathers then (not to mention a million or two of conservative folks).

Sadly though the real issue is not of 'European Values' but of segregation in the immigration norms. Especially because people from a non-muslim background aren't subjected to such tests.

These immigration issues reminds me of an old story I was told as a kid. Once upon a time, there was a travelling community which wanted to settle down in a rich Indian kingdom. They sent a messenger to the Rajah (King) of the kingdom with their request to settle there. The Rajah's advisors told him not to allow these people since they were not known to them. The Rajah, thought over it, then he summoned for a vessel filled to the brim with milk. He told the messenger to take this to the leader of the travellers. The leader received this vessel of milk and he added some sugar to the milk, mixed it and sent it back.

The messenger delivered this sweetened milk to the Rajah. The Rajah drinks the milk from the vessel, smiles and tells the messenger that the travellers were free to stay in his kingdom. The people around were astonished and asked the Rajah the meaning of the all this. The Rajah said that I sent the vessel filled with milk to their leader to tell him that we already were filled to the capacity with people in this country. To which the leader of the travellers had replied by adding sugar and mixing the same, meaning that the travellers would become a part of the society and by this make the society even better. (I think this is a Birbal story, someone correct me if it isn't). I can't think of a better immigration test than this one or modern ones in this vein.

When communities, (whatever maybe their background, black or white, muslim or christian, european or asian) start building walls around themselves, they end up not just keeping others from coming in but also end up nurturing ignorance and ineptitude within their own. One needs to understand the differences that are part and parcel of each culture, respect that and give people the freedom to follow their beliefs. Having said this, petty beliefs should not get in the way of commonsense and in the way of doing the right thing. I guess it's time a lot of folks started shelving their apprehensions and start being good neighbours.

I think the we all could do with the good old fashioned Indian motto of 'Unity in Diversity'.

(Please do read the archives of Patti McCracken's blog, she is a gifted writer and a journalist living in Europe. Her blog, which is a terrific read, often feels like a walk through the real Europe without the rose tinted glasses).

Monday, April 24, 2006

Plane Speaking

Readers of this blog will know that I write a lot of airline/airport stories, well, I'll let you in on a secret, I am afraid of heights and am really afraid of flying. For a guy who hates flying, I fly almost 4 days a week, life is a funny thing huh? I actually prefer traveling by trains really, trains are more fun, plus they are in constant touch with terra firma, you can get off in every stop, walk on land and that is very reassuring.

I've never had a comfortable plane ride, How can one anyway? They stick you in a steel tube, strap you to a chair, put on some funeral music, tell ya what to do when the plane lands on water and then they have the gall to ask you to have a nice flight. Yeah right lady! Fat chance!

When they tell you about water evacuation during the safety demo, they usually are matter of factly about it, "If the flight has to land on water...", what the heck, it shouldn't have to land on water! That's not what it's for! Sea-Ships, Air-Planes! Get it?? You don't hear the Captain of a Ship saying "If the ship has to jump up in the air, parachutes can be found in your cabins", do you?

While checking in for a flight I am pretty insistent that I get an aisle seat somewhere close to the front of the plane. I don't quite know why I ask this really but it is strangely comforting not to sit on the window seat to be able to look out at the fast disappearing ground. Sitting next to the window one is magically drawn towards looking through it. It's more difficult if the flight is during daylight because you can see way too much and ohmygawdimgonnafrickingdie tough if the flight is during daylight AND there is turbulence. Coz you can see the ground as well as know that you are a few kilometers up in the sky and doing the boogie woogie while being strapped to a chair. At least in the dark you can pretend that it was just a bumpy road.

When you see me though, you really won't realize that I'm scared shitless, I have gotten pretty good at masking it. I can resist the urge to grab the armrest every time there is turbulence and I even don't go cross eyed if the plane banks to a side and you are suddenly staring at the ground through the window.

(Sidebar: The battery goes beep beep like the Roadrunner . I hope it doesn't go off while I type this, I really haven't saved this yet, I think I should, I know I should yet here I am typing away instead of saving)

Airline regulations are pretty strange, one isn't supposed to keep one's cellphone on when one is in the plane. The reason given is that that cellphones would affect the navigation of the flight, Yeah right, pull the other leg guys. Everyone knows what happens in a plane, most folks just keep their cellphones in the silent mode and hope they go undetected. I haven't seen a plane get lost because of this, have you? Wouldn't it be crazy if the plane landed in Bombay instead of landing at Delhi and the pilot comes storming outside the cockpit screaming "@##$$@ %&@ Now who used a cellphone in the plane, c'mon, admit it!!!"

I have heard this following conversation a few weeks ago in a Deccan Airways Flight seconds after it touched the ground and was making it's way to the 'de-planing' area (more on 'de-planing' later).

Cellphone rings in the row just ahead of mine.

Air Hostess rushes over to the passenger.

AH: Sir, you have to switch it off!! It affects the navigation of the flight!

Passenger (with a smirk): You mean the pilot can't find his way after he has landed the plane???

AH: huh.


Airliners have changed the way we travel but have in many ways introduced some really ugly terminologies in our lives. Deplaning is probably the worst, you get on the plane you get to go 'aboard' the plane, but when you are getting off, you are just deplaned. You'd expect a sack of potatoes or a bunch of sheep to be deplaned but surely not passengers. It's like all of a sudden the airline just lost their interest in you.

Another terminology that I can't quite figure out is 'hand baggage', is there any other part of the anatomy that's associated with baggage? A leg baggage? Or a neck baggage? Why not just say in-flight baggage? Or carry on baggage? (which is in fact used in certain parts of the world) I could talk about more interesting terminologies like cockpit & check-in but that's for another post.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Work vs. Life

I was reading about the graduates from top notch Business Schools like ISB & IIMs were getting paid close to $250,000 and I went WOW! This was for two reasons, firstly the amount of money seemed rather high, secondly for that amount of money (or for any amount for that matter), there was no class associated with the way the news came out. The fact that the schools themselves put out this information seems rather strange. Yes I know this is good publicity but what about that bright candidate who wants to take up teaching? Or the one that wants to go work for his/her government? These guys wouldn't really be getting this kind of money. It appears to me that these schools have narrowed down their success parameters to the amount of salary that their graduates got. Like I said earlier, no class whatosever.

I just thought about my life. I passed out of a business school eight years ago, with dreams of making it big. I wanted to get at the big bucks and I wanted to do it quick. I worked hard, feeling guilty every time I didn't reach a target or a deadline. This indeed is strange behavior for me, because when I grew up I was rather wild. I hardly had a good grade in school & I barely managed to make it through Engineering College. If ever there was a term that was the rank opposite of creme de la creme, it would have fitted me pretty well. B-School made me serious I think, to be honest, it also gave me a lot of self belief and I decided that if I did something, I wanted to be the best at it. I joined my first bank.

Later, when my kid sister decided to take up a teaching job, giving up a lucrative offer from a bank, I didn't quite understand her choice. I was even crass enough in thinking that she hadn't had the guts to take up a more challenging job.

Now with the passing of time, I look at my life, I have a job that keeps me occupied 7 days a week, 15 hours a day. I travel 4 days a week & the worst part is I love doing it and I'm getting to being half decent at what I'm doing too. Not that I love the hard work, I surely don't but I enjoy the challenge and the responsibility. Now, I simply don't know another way of living. My sister on the other hand, has a nice life, a job that she thrives in and a personal life that is very fullfilling, as usual, my kid sister has her own way of proving that she was spot on with her choices.

Over the last year or so there are moments of remorse that I have, moments when I wish that I had spent a bit of time to work on my personal life. Maybe I'd be married now, maybe I'd have kids. Maybe I'd have the time to be with dad during his day long check up or maybe the time to help mom pick up that new pair of glasses (both of those things I should have done, but just haven't had the time to do so the last one week). Maybe I'd have had the time to create something for the sake of creating, not coz it makes some revenue sense. But some of these things that I yearn to do scare me if it ever they turn into reality, especially when it comes to women, probably thats why I'm so good at screwing up my relationships. But hey, no complaints, I love my job, right?

Somehow work provides a cocoon for people like me, we think we are doing something earth shatteringly important and buzz around in our formal wear from one meeting to another, from one city to another, living month on month, year on year. I remember having a new years eve drink with a pal who works for a large MNC, this is a guy who is heading India for a division, he said wryly that he didn't know if that drink was to celebrate the successful completion of one year or to fortify him for the 50% increase in the target for the next year (which started the next day).

In reality most of our personal lives really don't amount to shit. It's like being the Darth Vader, you look cool in the black suit but heck you gotta breathe through a tin hat to survive.

I have a former colleague and a dear friend U. I spoke to her yesterday after 2 months or something and figured out that she is unwell and is bedridden. Now if ever there was someone so motivated to work and had extremely high energy levels it is she. After telling me what was wrong, she then proceeded to talk about work and she told me that life became too crazy with monthly sales incentives being announced. They firstly were too big to be ignored plus achieving top incentives also meant that you stayed ahead of the pack, which meant a lot for someone who strives to do atleast a bit more than the rest. I realised that one of the reasons she was there in that bed was coz of the stress in her work life. She's just 27.

Knowing her, I know she'd be on her feet in a couple of weeks and buzz around like the Energizer bunny she is. Hopefully, she wouldn't maintain the stress levels that she is used to, no one deserves that.

Now I don't make anywhere close to that $250,000 but I make good money, more than I had ever set to make and all I can say to those kids passing out is that sometimes you gotta think if all that money was really enough to sell your soul for. I'm not advocating that everyone do their own thing and go smell the daisies or whatever but what I'm saying is that never take a job more seriously than you should, the price that you pay just isn't worth it.

An attachment with a job or a career should never come in the way of human attachments, to repair the damage is a long and tough process and a some people like me have no clue where to begin.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

75th: Some Unfinished Business

This is the 75th post for this blog. I thank everyone for visiting and reading.

Wanting to take a walk down memory lane, I thought about highlighting some of this blog's better posts but I've decided to go the other way highlight the worst of this blog, ie, the stuff that even I didn't think was good enough to finish or put up. These are posts that went unfinished and for good reasons too, read on and you'll know why.

(An untitled post written on the morning after a night of drinking )

Its 1:30 PM and I've not had breakfast or lunch, the sun is screaming at us, have a migraine, so the chances of me makign any sense in this post is absofuckinglutely not possible. I realise that by embedding an F word I've officially made it impossible for my mom to see this blog. Yeah, we South Indians still hold on to what we call as moral values, which is the stuff we love rubbing on everyone else's noses.

This reminds me of sex, the taboo topic, does any South Indian remember having the birds and the bees conversation with their parents or any other elders? Or a sex ed class tht we so often hear about from the american media? I sure as hell didn't. Heck when I was 8-9, we sat around after class wondering how babies happened. As we were discussing on how this could happen, we had one nerdy guy was saying that this might involve a man and a woman lying naked together, man the way we laughed at him that evening! He was infact laughed at and ridiculed for the rest of the year, I bet wherever he is, he laugh's his ass of when he remembers the dumbasses in school. We've all had to learn as we go along in our own bumbling ways.

Last night I was at Zara's a local bar that I frequent, there was a Colombian band playing, the lead singer was a boxum redhead earing a extra tight midriff baring number over her ample body (in the colour of screaming red that too). The boys drooling over her had to be seen to be believed. A table of 50+ uncles were getting really tuned into the music, which only sounded at times like SCREEEECHHH, DINGCHAK, DINGCHAK or at times like a military march meets the sounds of the jungle to me. Was it Latino?...who the fuck knew what she were singing, probably an ode to the dumbass drool laden tam boys (and a few girls, what is wrong with chennai these days??????). Back to the uncles, they all looked like they are the type tht would give you a 'in my days, we lived only for our work and family' kinda shit to you, sigh.



(An unfinished post titled "The Case of a Missing Telephone, the case like the post never did have a closure)

0910 hours
Monday Morning
At my workstation

I ain't there.


0959
Hrs Monday Morning
At My Workstation

Still ain't there..Running late aren't we?


1034 Hrs
Monday Morning
At My Workstation

I finally appear. (phew). Fire up my laptop, it wheezes to life. Gulp a cup of hot bournvita, correction Coffee (image man, image!). Reach for the phone to check voice messages. BLING BLING!

No Phone.

I check in the usual places, under the table and the waste basket. Not there!

I reach to call the admin. BLING BLING. No Phone! Cursing, I walk over to my neighbour's workstation, hang his phone mid-sentence, monday morning office romances can wait. I call the admin

Me: Hello, this is R. in the second floor
Sore Throat: Yes
Me: My phone is missing.
Sore Throat: Cell Phone?
Me: No landline.
Sore Throat: Landline?
Me: Landline.
Sore Throat: Not Cellphone? (Einstien!)

Me: Can you send someone up with a replacement?
Sore Throat: Umm...what is your extension?
Me: 4114
Sore Throat: Ok...I will call you back right now
Me: But my phone instrument is gone, how will you call me
Sore Throat: oh?

Sore Throat despatches the Thompson twins (as in the Thompson twins from the Tintin comic series)
Thompson: Err. Mr. R., when was the phone lost?
Me: I saw it last on Thursday when I left town and I just got back today.
Thomson: Ah, it must have been stolen during that time.
Me: (Looking Blank)
Thompson: Did you lock up the phone in your desk drawer?
Me: No. I never do that
Thomson: But for safety, when you are not using your phone you should unplug and lock it up
Me: But what about voice mail? And by the way isn't a phone safe in a bank?
Thomson: Hmm..No..yes..but..Ahhh..
Thompson: Ahhh..

(An untitled & unfinished story)

He opened his eyes slowly. Bright Lights everywhere. As his brain started getting used to the surroundings, he realised that he was in an airport lobby. Airport lobby? He had no idea how he got there. Where was he going? He checked for his laptop bag which should have been on his side. It wasn't there. 'Where am I going?' he thought. He had no idea. Slowly he remembered that he was driving his car in his usual style, fast. Then it all came to him, images of a dog in the middle of the road, him swerving to avoid the dog, the spinning, the crashing noise and the fire..

Cold sweat ran down his back. He could feel his heart beat a crazy tune. He reached slowly to feel his legs and arms. He was ok. OK. He could feel the tension ease, he chuckled. I made it, he thought. Was it a dream? Maybe it was all just a dream. He got up, stretched his long legs. No aches, no stiffness, he felt fitter than ever before. He grinned, he just couldn't believe he made it, boy, what a dream. Coffee. He needed coffee. He looked around, taking in the crowded lobby for the first time. A busy day at the airport. Now, where was he going? He needed coffee, to get his mind working. Too much of travelling for you son, he said to himself. No coffee vendor anywhere. He walked over to the check in counter.

It's funny, he thought, there were large queues for each counter except for the one he was walking towards.

He walked in and putting on his best salesman smile. He said "Hi, how are you doin?"...

(An unfinished post titled 'Death')

Interesting topic to start the week off isn't it? There is so much of seriousness and finality that surrounds death that we don't freely talk about it. Fancily enough the idea for this post came from this new sitcom that I've begun to like called 'Scrubs'. In one of their episodes, this character lists out all the things that he should do before he passes away. Now, I'm not usually fond of creating lists but this one intrigued me. I just wanted to make a realistic list of things that I would like to do (by realistic I'm ruling out a date with Claudia Schiffer in the near future, I don't want go there, our first date didn't go so well, you see).

Anyway, getting to the issue in hand, I thought I should write down fourteen things that I would like to do before I die, being a sort of a checklist. Why fourteen you may ask, why not fourteen is all I have to reply. I have specifically chosen to exclude sex and food from this list because I would end up filling all the entries with them and end up looking like a leery glutton, which I am not, in most part. So without further ado, here is my list of 14, in scrambled order.

13. I would like to travel up a hot air balloon. Heights scare me, the very thought of being stuck in a wicker basket a few thousand feet about the ground at the very least sounds stupid, But you have to admit, it does look beautiful from down below, so I think the scenery from up there should be better

9. I would like to address a crowd of a thousand people. Now I am afraid of speaking in front of a large group of people. While I've been in sales most of my career, I've preferred to deal with one or two individuals at any given point of time. The thought of being in front of a thousand people and not being able to check if the zipper is up is a galling thought but that's a bridge that I must cross. I just have to.

3. I would like to save a life. Hopefully it would be the life of an oversized muscleman, who will then proceed to follow me around and thump anyone who remotely bothers me. Just the thought of a man Friday is fantastic. Well I really can be shallow you see.

11. I would like to shake hands with Boris Becker & Diego Maradona. Two personal heroes!

10. I would like to backpack across Africa. Anyone who knows me, has heard me rant and rave about this for years. Hopefully I will do this before too long.

1. I would like to have a dozen children.

(I had a list of 14 then, I just didn't go the distance with this post. Oh and the unfinished painting put up in this post is of Napoleon started in 1798 by Jacques-Louis David)